No, I'm not talking about Sarah Palin.
Well, actually, in a way I am: but I mean handicapping in the horse race sense.
Time to stop obsessing about this election and think, for a moment, about the next…
Let's suppose that McCain fails to win on Nov. 4. Who will become the likely nominees for '12?
- Palin will have a big advantage with the remnants of the 'base', but many others will blame her for the loss and her negatives are high. Presumably Palin will start reading foreign news sources, like the New York Times, and learn to mouth seemingly relevant platitudes instead of irrelevant ones. I don't think it will work.
- Huckabee will contest Palin for the evangelical vote, and his folksy ways will help with other groups too. I think it will work.
- Florida's own Charlie Crist will be a bigger possibility than Jeb! as the Bush brand will remain tarnished nationally, and Jeb!'s association with the financial meltdown will finish the job. His marriage will help.
- Tancredo will run again, but get as little traction.
- Romney will run again, he's got the money, but the same set of obstacles.
- Gulliani, Paul, and Thompson are not going to be factors (although Paul might try the third party thing, conceivably, as might Barr).
- Newt Gingrich is looking for a comeback.
I'd say the early leaders will be Crist and Huckabee, but handicapping Republicans is not obviously my strong suit. Who have I left out?